Independent experiments find hints of new particle at LHC | Distant galaxy's gamma-ray blast detected by VERITAS | Dogs were domesticated 33,000 years ago, DNA study suggests
December 16, 2015
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Independent experiments find hints of new particle at LHC
The hint of a new fundamental particle has been detected by two independent teams using the Large Hadron Collider at CERN. Scientists say it's too soon to get too excited, but it echoes what happened at CERN four years ago, a few months before the discovery of the Higgs boson. Some theories suggest the particle, if it is indeed a new particle, could be a heavier version of the Higgs or a graviton. The New York Times (free-article access for SmartBrief readers) (12/15)
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Science in the News
Distant galaxy's gamma-ray blast detected by VERITAS
A blast of gamma rays from a rare type of galaxy called a blazar has been detected by the Very Energetic Radiation Imaging Telescope Array System, or VERITAS, according to findings published in the Astrophysical Journal. The ray emanated from PKS 1441+25, about 7 billion light-years from Earth. Scientists determined that the gamma rays didn't come from the galaxy's black hole, but from an area about five light-years away from the black hole. United Press International (12/15)
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Dogs were domesticated 33,000 years ago, DNA study suggests
The domestication of dogs dates back 33,000 years to southern East Asia, according to an extensive canine DNA study published in Cell Research. The earliest domesticated dogs descended from grey wolves most likely from China. Researchers sequenced the genomes of 58 kinds of dogs. Discovery (12/15)
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Parrots observed creating their own nutritional supplements
Greater vasa parrots use tools to make their own nutritional supplements, a study published in Biology Letters reports. Researchers observed the parrots using pebbles to break shells and date pits, then grind the pieces into a calcium powder that they would consume. Scientists say this is the first time nonhuman creatures have been seen creating their own nutritional supplements. Discovery (12/15)
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Airplane traffic may be adding layer of ice crystals to atmosphere
Jet traffic may be creating a high-altitude layer of ice crystals that brightens the skies and affects the amount of solar radiation on the Earth's surface, according to scientists at the American Geophysical Union meeting. "You have to have a mechanism to generate the ice crystals and there is nothing in nature up there necessarily that we can identify that would consistently produce these ice particles, except the very well correlated and well documented increase in the commercial air traffic over the continental United States," said NOAA's Chuck Long, who called the phenomenon "accidental geoengineering." BBC (12/16)
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DME patients may benefit from vitrectomy, experts say
Patients with diabetic macular edema may choose vitrectomy as a more affordable, effective alternative to pharmacotherapy, said Dr. J. Fernando Arevalo, a consultant to Alcon and DORC, at the FLOREtina meeting. A study in the journal BioMed Research International showed that patients with DME had more visual improvement after undergoing vitrectomy than they did with other therapies. Healio (free registration)/Ocular Surgery News (12/15)
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Gene tied to higher risk for diabetes, illness in Down syndrome patients
A study in Nature Communications showed that people with Down syndrome carry three times the normal amount of the RCAN1 gene, which lowers the activity of nerve growth factor and puts them at a higher risk of illnesses such as diabetes, heart disease and immune disorders. Researchers analyzed tissue samples from people with the disorder and mice and found that excess amounts of the gene led to impaired development of the peripheral nervous system. HealthDay News (12/14)
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Funding Watch
Energy Department adds $35M for hydrogen fuel cell research
The US Energy Department is aiming to encourage development of new hydrogen fuel cell technology with the announcement of an additional $35 million in funding for research on increasing and improving hydrogen, increasing FCEV fueling infrastructure, foundational research and development of analytic tools to measure fuel cell efficiency. CleanTechnica (12/13)
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